The service on Thursday released a draft request for proposal in preparation of having defense companies submit ideas on how best to develop new wings for the remaining portion of the A-10 fleet, according to a solicitation on FedBizOps.
"We request any questions or comments to these documents be submitted to the Contracting Office by Feb. 23," the draft said. "Due to potential A-10 groundings, this acquisition is being expedited to the maximum extent possible."
The draft schedule indicates the Air Force intends to start reviewing proposals by June 5. It will select a winner for the contract award in spring 2019, the tentative schedule says.
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The service says it has designed the effort in part to reward contractors that control costs and meet deadlines.
In addition to profits to be set based on contract negotiations, "the Contractor may earn an additional amount of up to $17,000,000 for meeting appropriate performance and schedule metrics as determined through application of the objective criteria," according to the quality and incentive portion of the documents.
That includes cost savings for the company if the deliveries are on time.
Last month, the Air Force said it's searching for a new company to rebuild wings on the A-10 after ending an arrangement with Boeing Co.
The service plans to launch a "a new and open competition" for the re-winging work and award a contract sometime after Congress appropriates full-year funding for fiscal 2018, which began Oct. 1, officials said.
Of the 281 A-10s currently in the inventory, 173 have already been outfitted or are in the process of being outfitted with new wings (though one of the newly re-winged planes was destroyed in a crash), according to Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek.
That leaves 109 aircraft remaining in the inventory still slated to receive the upgrades, she told Military.com last month.
Stefanek said the Air Force plans to use $103 million authorized in the National Defense Authorization Act, which sets policy goals and spending limits for the fiscal year, to award a contract for the A-10 work, establish a new wing production line and produce four additional wings.
That work "is all that money funds," she said.
Once the Air Force receives the funding, the competition can be announced.
However, because the wings will be considered a "new start" program, the work can't begin under a continuing resolution -- the program is dependent on the fiscal 2018 and succeeding 2019 appropriations.
While Congress passed a two-year budget deal early Friday in the midst of a government shutdown, lawmakers intend to work out the details of the appropriations funding over the next six weeks, including defense spending.
"In the [FY]19 program that we're working, we also buy more wings," Air Force Gen. Mike Holmes, Air Combat Command commander, said during a recent speech in Washington, D.C.
"As far as exactly how many of the 280 or so A-10s that we have that we'll maintain forever, I'm not sure. That'll depend on a Department of Defense decision and our work with Congress," he said.